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May 27th, 2012

What is Pentecost?

What is Pentecost

Pentecost is the great festival that marks the birth of the Christian church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost means “fiftieth day” and is celebrated fifty days after Easter. The word Pentecost is Greek and comes from the word for 50. Pentecost is all about getting empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost is also called Whitsunday. Pentecost came to be the favored time for baptisms when the newly baptized wore white, for which reason the holiday is called White Sunday or Whitsunday. Pentecost is held to be the birthday of the Christian Church.

What happened on Pentecost?

Ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven, the twelve apostles, Jesus’ mother and family, and many other of His disciples gathered together in Jerusalem for the Jewish harvest festival that was celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover. While they were indoors praying, a sound like that of a rushing wind filled the house and tongues of fire descended and rested over each of their heads. This was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on human flesh promised by God through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-29).

The disciples were suddenly empowered to proclaim the gospel of the risen Christ. They went out into the streets of Jerusalem and began preaching to the crowds gathered for the festival. Not only did the disciples preach with boldness and vigor, but by a miracle of the Holy Spirit they spoke in the native languages of the people present, many who had come from all corners of the Roman Empire. This created a sensation. The apostle Peter seized the moment and addressed the crowd, preaching to them about Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. The result was that about three thousand converts were baptized that day. (You can read the Biblical account of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-41).

Pentecost : The Third Christian Mega-Festival

There are three “mega-festivals” commemorated in the Christian calendar. The first two, Christmas and Easter, are well-known to both believers and non-believers. But it’s possible that even liturgical Christians may not be as familiar with the third, the festival of Pentecost. God the Father’s wonderful Christmas gift of His one and only Son, and Christ’s Easter triumph over the power of sin, death, and the devil would be of no benefit to us if the Holy Spirit did not give us the gift of saving faith.

Through the Word and Sacraments, the Holy Spirit gives us the faith to believe and trust in Christ as our Savior. This precious gift of faith in the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ is the reason Pentecost is the third “mega-festival” of the church and why we celebrate it with such joy and thanksgiving.

October 23rd, 2011

Mission Sunday

Mission Sunday

This Sunday, on the 23rd of October, we are celebrating the 85th Mission Sunday. Annually, World Mission Sunday is celebrated on the last but one Sunday of October. This Sunday is set aside to think about our Mission to the world and is a reminder to us as to who we are and what we have to do.

The mission comes directly from Jesus to his disciples to go out to the whole world and proclaim the gospel to all creation. He told them to go everywhere to preach the word of God, to heal and Baptize people in his name. This Sunday is an important day in the life of the Church because it teaches how to sacrifice and to give their share as an offering made to God, for the service of the missions of the world.

The theme of this year’s celebration is, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Pope Benedict opened his remarks by emphasizing that the “announcement of the Gospel is destined for everyone.” He added that the Church exists to evangelize. Her activity, in conformity with the word of Christ and under the influence of His grace and charity, becomes fully and truly present in all individuals and all people in order to lead them to faith in Christ. The task of spreading the Gospel, then, has lost none of its urgency today. But the Church cannot “rest easy” at the thought that “there are people who still do not know Christ, who have not yet heard His message of salvation.”

Every year the needs of the Catholic Church in the Missions grow – as new dioceses are formed, as new seminaries are opened because of the growing number of young men hearing Christ’s call to follow Him as priests, as areas devastated by war or natural disaster are rebuilt, and as other areas, long suppressed, are opening up to hear the message of Christ and His Church. That is why the involvement and commitment of Catholics from around the world is so urgently needed. Offerings from Catholics in the United States, on World Mission Sunday and throughout the year, are combined with offerings to the Propagation of the Faith worldwide.

As described by Pope John Paul II, World Mission Sunday is “an important day in the life of the Church because it teaches how to give: as an offering made to God, in the Eucharistic celebration and for all the missions of the world”.

Find more on World Mission Sunday

As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Are you ready for the mission?

September 15th, 2011

Our Lady of Sorrows

Our Lady of Sorrows

Today, September 15, we have the feast of our lady of sorrows.

Devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady has its roots in Sacred Scripture and in Christian piety, which always associates the Blessed Mother with her suffering Son. Today’s feast was introduced by the Servites in order to intensify devotion to Our Lady’s Sorrows.

History of the feast of our lady of sorrows

This feast dates back to the 12th century. It was especially promoted by the Cistercians and the Servites, so much so that in the 14th and 15th centuries it was widely celebrated throughout the Catholic Church. In 1482 the feast was added to the Missal under the title of “Our Lady of Compassion.” Pope Benedict XIII added it to the Roman Calendar in 1727 on the Friday before Palm Sunday. In 1913, Pope Pius X fixed the date on September 15. The title “Our Lady of Sorrows” focuses on Mary’s intense suffering during the passion and death of Christ. “The Seven Dolors,” the title by which it was celebrated in the 17th century, referred to the seven swords that pierced the Heart of Mary. The feast is like an octave for the birthday of Our Lady on September 8th. — Excerpted from Our Lady of Sorrows by Fr. Paul Haffner (Inside the Vatican, September 2004)

About the feast

This feast is dedicated to the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, Mother of God, and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son, Jesus. In her suffering as co-redeemer, she reminds us of the tremendous evil of sin and shows us the way of true repentance. May the numerous tears of the Mother of God be conducive to our salvation; with which tears Thou, O God, art able to wash away the sins of the whole world.

Seven sorrows of Mary

As Mary stood at the foot of the Cross on which Jesus hung, the sword of sorrow Simeon had foretold pierced her soul. Below are the seven sorrows of Mary:

1. The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
2. The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
3. Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50)
4. Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
5. Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
6. The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
7. The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)

Symbols

heart pierced with a sword;
heart pierced by seven swords;
winged heart pierced with a sword;
flowers: red rose, iris (meaning: “sword-lily”), cyclamen.

The Virgin Mary, who believed in the word of the Lord, did not lose her faith in God when she saw her Son rejected, abused and crucified. Rather she remained beside Jesus, suffering and praying, until the end. And she saw the radiant dawn of His Resurrection. Let us learn from her to witness to our faith with a life of humble service, ready to personally pay the price of staying faithful to the Gospel of love and truth, certain that nothing that we do will be lost. — Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus – September 13, 2009

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